oa South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences - Street vending in the Eastern Cape: survival strategy or conduit to entrepreneurship?
Although South Africa consistently registered positive economic growth rates since the democratic government took office in 1994, this economic expansion has not been accompanied by a surge of new formal sector jobs. The public and private sectors have been shedding labour, partly in response to globalisation and domestic economic realities. Consequently, more and more individuals are taking to street vending to create jobs for themselves. This article examines the dynamics of street vending and investigates whether it is merely a survival mode of existence or a conduit to formal entrepreneurship. The results of the study indicate that only 15 per cent of the surveyed operators may graduate to formal entrepreneurship in the medium or long term. It seems highly unlikely that a substantial number of high profile entrepreneurs would emerge from this mass of survivalist traders. For most street traders, the informal economy is not a conduit to entrepreneurship, but a survival strategy. From a development perspective, the way forward for street vendors is to transform their ventures into more value-adding operations that can provide sustainable livelihoods for themselves, and in due course jobs for others.
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